By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS
You know that critics of Israel are getting panicky when they start trotting out the old “one state” bogeyman.
“As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction,” a New York Times headline announced on Jan. 5, above an article so palpably absurd that it can only reflect the mad panic among advocates of Palestinian statehood as they see their dream fading away. And the fact that The Times chose to make it page one news says a lot about the fearful mindset among the left-wing news media, Israel-bashing pundits and Jewish peace camp types.
The article was written by David M. Halbfinger, who became The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief six months ago. Before taking up that position, Halbfinger served as one of the newspaper’s Hollywood correspondents and as its New York City metro political editor. It doesn’t sound like those previous posts prepared him very well for understanding Israel and the Palestinians.
On the other hand, sometimes it seems as if the only “qualification” The Times requires for someone to serve as its Jerusalem correspondent (or bureau chief!) is the ability to come up with ways to harangue and smear Israel and to make Palestinians look sympathetic. That’s certainly what Halbfinger seemed to be up to with his “one state” declaration.
The basic idea is to threaten Israel: If you don’t agree to create an independent Palestinian state adjacent to your major cities and airports, then you’ll really be in trouble, because the Palestinians will demand that they become part of a single state with you Israelis, and then they will outnumber you, and then—poof!—no more Israel.
According to the “one state” idea that Palestinians are supposedly talking about, thinking about and considering, “the Palestinian movement should shift to a struggle for equal civil rights, including the freedom of movement, assembly and speech, and the right to vote in national elections.”
What Halbfinger forgot to mention is that Israel already gave the Palestinians all of those things—it’s only the Palestinian Authority (PA) that interferes with them. In 1995, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pulled Israel’s forces out of the areas where 98 percent of the Palestinians live. As of 1995, Israel no longer determined the Palestinians’ freedom of movement, assembly, speech or right to vote. They can move, assemble, speak and vote whenever the PA leadership lets them.
In fact, just last May, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians went to 461 polling stations, and chose the members of the 391 municipal and village councils in the PA-controlled portions of Judea and Samaria. A total of 3,489 council members were elected.
The only reason there has not been a Palestinian election for president is that the current occupant of that position, Mahmoud Abbas, won’t allow a presidential election. Why doesn’t Halbfinger write about Palestinians who are angry not at Israel, but at the fascist dictatorship under which they suffer? I think we all know the answer to that question.
Israelis laugh at the “one state” talk. Of course they would never accept a demand for one state with an Arab majority. It doesn’t matter how many clever slogans the Palestinians invent (with the help of their Western PR firms). It doesn’t matter how many critics of Israel shout phony accusations of “apartheid,” or how many attacks-disguised-as-news Halbfinger writes in The New York Times.
The “one state” threat is a cheap propaganda exercise whose only purpose is to try to scare Israelis and their American Jewish supporters. The irony is that it’s The New York Times and J Street who are the ones that are genuinely scared. They’re scared to death because their dream of setting up a Palestinian state a few miles from Tel Aviv is slipping away.
And they seemed so close! For eight years, they had an American president who really believed a Palestinian state would bring peace in our time. They turned the Democratic Party virtually into an advocate for the Palestinian cause. They pressured Israel to freeze all Jewish construction in the territories for 10 months.
But then democracy intervened. In 2013 and 2015, Israelis chose to re-elect a government that recognizes the deadly dangers of a Palestinian state and nine-miles-wide borders. In 2016, Americans elected a president whose party platform dropped its previous support for Palestinian statehood. The people—on both sides of the Atlantic—have spoken. All that Israel’s critics are left with is a bunch of stale slogans and pathetic scare tactics.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.